Newhouse Creative Advertising Students Win Cannes Future Lions Grand Prix Award

Two smiling women hold up their awards after a ceremony
Molly Egan ’25, left, and Marlana Bianchi ’24 hold up their awards in Cannes, France. (Photo provided by Mel White)

Newhouse School creative advertising students Marlana Bianchi ’24 and Molly Egan ’25 have won the prestigious Future Lions Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France.

They earned the high honor this week for their “Break the Sound Barrier” entry that addressed a brief, or assignment, from Spotify that asked how the music-streaming service could “spread positivity by using technology to bring listeners closer to the creators and communities they love.”

Two smiling women holding awards flank another smiling woman.
From left, Marlana Bianchi ’24, Professor of Practice Mel White, and Molly Egan ’25 celebrate after Bianchi and Egan picked up their awards in Cannes, France. (Photo provided by Mel White)

Bianchi, as art director, and Egan, as copywriter, worked on their award-winning entry in the Portfolio III course taught by Mel White, professor of practice of advertising. The assignment challenged students to employ new technology and uplift marginalized communities.

Using insight that music-sharing platforms lack features catering to the deaf community, Bianchi and Egan revealed that music is not an inclusive hobby. Their winning entry would make music streaming on Spotify accessible to the full spectrum of hearing.

“In a world with 7,000 spoken languages and 300 visual sign languages, the one universal language which connects us all is music,” AKQA said in announcing the winners. Future Lions is an annual initiative from AKQA—which describes itself as an ideas and innovation company—that celebrates bold and progressive ideas from students all over the world.

Bianchi and Egan conceived partnering with deaf sign language performers who memorize and dance to beats and lyrics, aiming to engage both deaf and hearing fans. They also plan to use deep fake technology to scale performances into over 300 visual sign languages for each song on the platform, breathing life into music sharing for the deaf community.

“The initiative features deaf performances that can be added to songs by leveraging deep fake technology for social good, making music more accessible for all,” AKQA said.

This year, the company partnered with Spotify and The Wall Street Journal on the Future Lions competition, which is in its 19th year. Spotify and AKQA will collaborate with Bianchi and Egan to bring the idea to life on the Spotify platform.